Hong Kong Market Comes of Age

Beauty is showing its true colors here. Walking down a street in Hong Kong just a decade ago, it was rare to spot women wearing foundation or nail polish. Now though, it's hard to find a bevy of better-groomed denizens anywhere.

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When it comes to niche skin care, in its Pacific Place store, for instance, there is a Healthy Living beauty concept of some 900 square feet that was created in May around three core brands — Elemis, Dr. Hauschka and Care by Stella McCartney.

"Every brand chosen in this area has to be defined 'it's good for me because...,'" explained Simone Pedersen, Lane Crawford's general merchandise manager of cosmetics. "It's not just about organic and natural brands."

Also found in this area are natural and organic products, beauty tonics, beauty juices, oxygen in a can, sunscreen and hair care. Brands include Cor, Lisa Simon, Ole Henrikson, Trilogy, Juice Beauty and Dr. Perricone.

In Lane Crawford's International Finance Centre location, in lieu of a Healthy Living area is a space dedicated to brands "that are innovative and/or have great technology behind them," said Pedersen, who has lined shelves with the likes of Amatokin, Strivectin, AR 457, MD Skincare, Dr. Steven Victor and Dr. Sebagh.

"We put strong signage here," said Pedersen. "It's like self-education areas. And we sample heavily.

"Four-and-a-half years ago, our cosmetics department had 40 brands. It now has 200," said Pedersen, who explained that the strategy behind the concept was to build the department on the "core brands" (think Estée Lauder, Shiseido and SK-II, for instance).

To help a person find the products best suited to her or him, Lane Crawford in late 2004 instigated a free Cosmetic Concierge service involving a beauty adviser giving advice, explained Pedersen.

"We're going to do it in all of the stores going forward. It's really a great service," she said.

Another way Lane Crawford looks to service clients is through exclusive offers. So, too, do other retailers, such as Joyce Beauty, whose five locations carry about 40 beauty brands, of which some 60 percent are exclusive to Hong Kong.

Joyce Beauty is, for instance, the only Hong Kong retailer to sell Korean makeup artist brand Vidi Vici. Alice Wong, Joyce Beauty's division manager, showed the Vidi Vici products, including a lunch-box-like case of color cosmetics, while standing in Joyce Beauty's flagship on Queen's Road, Central. In April, it was expanded by 30 percent and refitted alongside the rest of the Joyce store with mirrored fixtures to have an ultraluxurious look, explained Wong.
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